Ferrari explain Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc calls in Singapore
"It was simply the proper window for Seb," say Ferrari as they explain why Vettel pitted first; But team admit they did consider swapping drivers back after Vettel's early stop "more powerful than expected"
By James Galloway and Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 23/09/19 3:46pm
Ferrari have explained why they pitted Sebastian Vettel first and not Charles Leclerc in the strategy that changed the destination of the Singapore GP victory.
Team boss Mattia Binotto has also revealed they did consider swapping their drivers positions back after the 'undercut' which Vettel benefitted from was "more powerful than expected".
Vettel jumped his race-leading team-mate and second-placed Lewis Hamilton when he was brought in on lap 19 for fresh tyres after a cat-and-mouse opening stint among the front runners.
Leclerc pitted a lap later, while Mercedes extended Hamilton's stint to no avail, with Vettel benefitting from the earlier advantage of new tyres to jump both rivals to set him on his way for a first victory in 13 months.
Team boss Mattia Binotto explained why Leclerc was not pitted first.
"Verstappen was ready to stop so we had to protect his [Sebastian's] position," Binotto told Sky Sports F1.
"It was the best opportunity for us to try and overtake Hamilton. Later on, we would have stopped Charles and the pit crew should have been free for him.
"So that was the right time to stop Sebastian - no discussion. Going out he drove very well on new tyres and, simply, that's racing and he has been ahead of Charles.
"We could not have stopped Charles at that stage because if you are leading the race you will not stop first. It was simply the proper window for Seb."
Speaking in a later press conference, Binotto confirmed they had given consideration to reversing the positions.
"Did we consider to swap? Yes, we did. We thought at that stage at least that it was the right choice not to do it," said the Italian.
"Now we are still discussing with our two drivers, was that the right choice or not? It's something on which internally which we may still have a different option or discuss. But, yes, we thought about it but we didn't [swap]."
Binotto added: "The undercut was more powerful than expected. It has been 3.9 seconds, we were not expecting such a big number. As a matter of fact, when we stopped Sebastian we thought Charles stopping the lap after he would have remained ahead of Sebastian. Sebastian drove well, the undercut has been 3.9s, and that's the facts."
'Obviously Charles is annoyed and frustrated'
After the race, Binotto was seen having what appeared to be an animated discussion with Leclerc's agent, Nicolas Todt.
Revealing what was said, Binotto added: "I told him that I know that obviously Charles is annoyed and frustrated, which is a positive attitude. If you would be a driver that's the right attitude to have.
"What I told him is that the scenarios are bigger and by the time he will understand the full picture I'm pretty sure he will quickly understand the reason for the choice.
"It's important for me that he's happy as well, happy for the team - it's a one-two. Obviously for him it's a missed win but it's been the opposite maybe in Belgium."
Binotto: We finally got some luck
Sky F1's Martin Brundle declared that Ferrari were "back in business" after their third straight F1 2019 victory - and this one coming at a track where they expected to struggle.
This was also their first one-two of the season.
"It was not expected, but very happy for the one-two today," said Binotto.
"Very happy for the third victory on a row on a completely different track."
He continued:"I feel more unlucky for the first part of the season and maybe too lucky now! We could have won some races that we didn't, we missed opportunities, and now some luck for the three wins in a row as it has been very close.
"And when it's very close it can go in one direction or the other."